You might be the kind of person who thinks that someone riding a bike should do everything possible to make themselves visible to drivers. That they should wear hi-visibility jackets. That they should be reflective, and illuminated.
Well, if you ever cross the road at night, you might want to pay attention to what judgements that are emerging from courts – judgements like this one – might mean for the clothing you have to wear.
A MINICAB driver who struck a pedestrian in Kingsbury has been cleared of causing death by careless driving.
Wahidullah Hoori, 41, had just turned off Edgware Road in Kingsbury when his 05-reg Seat Alambra people carrier hit Barry Southgate as the slow-moving 64-year-old crossed Kingsbury Road, at 11.50pm on April 11 2012.
Mr Southgate, of Theobald Crescent, Harrow, died nine days later from his injuries at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, west London.
Prosecutor Nicholas Bleaney told jurors: “The prosecution say he should have seen him and had plenty of opportunity to see him and Mr Southgate was doing nothing dramatic.
“He was walking along at a relatively slow, pedestrian speed – something any driver in any part of the country, particularly in London, has to deal with all the time.
“He did not suddenly come out from behind a tree and his movements, we say, were pretty obvious. Speed isn’t an issue. The turn was conducted at a normal speed. The accident, we say, was caused by carelessness.
“He [Hoori] should have stopped in time to avoid a collision or at the very least swerved to avoid him.”
Mr Southgate had helped plaster a wall at a friend’s house before he and his friend went for a drink at The Moon Under Water in Varley Parade, The Hyde in Colindale, where the victim drank two pints of real ale.
His bus home sped past as the two left the pub and so Mr Southgate, who was also known as Barry O’Reilly, decided at 11.30pm to walk down Edgware Road and had just turned the corner into Kingsbury Road when he was hit by the nearside front grill of Hoori’s minicab.
Mr Bleaney said the defendant made a statement to police that he had been working since 2pm on the day of the collision, that he had had a day off the previous day and had consumed neither alcohol or drugs before the crash.
Witness Raluca Frunza told the court: “I saw the old man. He was on the other side of the road. He was walking really slowly because he was on crutches. He was not using [the traffic island] to cross the road. I heard a noise like a metal-to-metal noise and heard a male scream, a yell, and then I realised that the car had hit the old man.
“I saw a lot of blood on the floor.”
There is some more detail on this case from the ‘expert witness’ providers, Wayman Experts, who provided ‘expert witness’ testimony in court, that appears, by their own estimation, to have contributed to the driver being found not guilty.
Mr Dave Burgess of Wayman Experts was instructed in this matter following a road traffic collision that occurred on the A4006 Kingsbury Road, London at approximately 2353 hours Tuesday April 10th 2012.
Mr Hoori, the driver of a Seat Alhambra taxi, collided with a pedestrian who sustained fatal injuries. During their investigation the Police obtained CCTV footage of the movement of both the pedestrian and vehicle immediately prior to impact, although the collision itself was not in view of the camera.
The prosecution alleged that the pedestrian should have been seen and that there were no obstacles preventing Mr Hoori from seeing the pedestrian.
The pedestrian was wearing dark outer clothing and walking with the aid of at least one crutch at a slow pace.
Within his report Mr Burgess highlighted a number of issues, to include the blind spot created by the vehicle ‘A’ pillar and the pedestrian conspicuity. [my emphasis]
Following a trial at Wood Green CC, the jury returned a verdict of Not Guilty to the charge of Causing Death by Careless Driving.
What does this all mean?
It means that if you are walking in a lit, urban area at night, wearing ordinary clothes, and you are struck and killed by a driver who should reasonably be able to see you as you cross a road, that driver will be found not guilty due, in part, to your lack of ‘conspicuity’.
Don’t think that wearing hi-visibility clothing is just a ‘cycling’ issue.